One of the biggest assumptions is that multitasking improves your productivity. Sending emails during a meeting, scanning reports during a conference call can make you believe that you’re being productive. When the reality is exactly the opposite.
Many ‘attention’ researchers have clearly stated that effective multi-tasking is nearly impossible. Psychiatrist Edward M. Hallowell even describes multi-tasking as:
“A mythical activity in which people believe they can perform two or more tasks simultaneously as effectively as one.”
Checking emails while having your lunch or listening to music while working out are things that you can definitely do as they do not require you to pay attention. Whereas, activities such as driving, reading or writing an email do require attention.
A Stanford University research found that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. The researchers also found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information find it difficult to pay attention, recall information, or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time.
What multitasking does is that it reduces your efficiency and performance because your brain can only focus on one thing at a time. Thus, when you try to multi-task, your brain lacks the capacity to perform both tasks successfully.
Here are a few tips to increase productivity without trying to be a superman.
1. Systemize your day.
Make a list of all the tasks at hand, ideally arranging them in an order of priority. Also, keeping your difficult and important tasks as the first thing for the day can be a boon.
2. Allocating limited time for emails.
Allocate a limited time dedicated to emails. Try twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. There’s a way to deal with email overload and it doesn’t have to be Inbox Zero, it can be Inbox-“sort-of”-zero.
3. Limit and filter your browsing.
Most of the people are never aware of the time they end up wasting scrolling through unnecessary websites daily. While it may only seem like five minutes here and 10 minutes there, a research suggests that only 17 percent of people can accurately estimate the passage of time. To be honest, you’re spending a lot more time than you think scrolling through feeds and checking blogs. To keep a check and your distractions to a minimum, try installing an app like Focus Lock, which locks you out of apps that are distracting.
4. Optimize your way of working to 90-minute intervals.
The optimum time to work on a project is ninety minutes. According to a Florida State University research people who work more than 90-minute intervals are bound to move into a state of physiological fatigue.
5. Importance of breaks.
Small 10-20 minutes breaks are a must. Have that dose of caffeine while being away on a break rather than trying to force yourself to work more. P.S.- Multi-tasking is not productive at all.